Building collapse puts summer camp's future in jeopardy

Building collapse puts summer camp's future in jeopardy

LOWER ALSACE TWP., Pa. - Concern surrounds the future of a beloved summer camp for kids with special needs after the retreat's main building collapsed beneath heavy snow and ice.

"Just the sheer weight and volume unfortunately collapsed the building," said David Ruyak, public works director for Reading, which owns the structure at Camp Lily in Lower Alsace Township.

Ruyak said the building wasn't heated, which likely contributed to its collapse.

"The newer section is still standing, but it's open to the elements, so I don't know what the continued damage will be," said Michele Rittle, camps and recreational director for Easter Seals, the non-profit which runs the camp for six weeks each summer.

Rittle said the section that did collapse was essentially the camp's backbone, containing space for activities and even a sensory room designed for campers with autism.

"We provide the children, the campers and young adults, the ability to come and be themselves," said Rittle, who was devastated by the collapse.

"We want to continue to provide this service, but right now details are very sketchy," said Rittle.

Rittle said replacing the building and its contents would be a great financial burden. She and the city intend to file an insurance claim and evaluate their options.

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